For anyone who knows Aaron Kampman, you know this was where he was going to be, toting a chainsaw and helping his neighbors even with his grandfather in the hospital.
I never felt like I got to know Aaron Kampman well in his days here. He was the prize recruit of the 1998 class. He was a high school Parade all-American linebacker who had designs on middle linebacker for the Hawkeyes, who beat out Nebraska for his services.
Hayden Fry retired and Kirk Ferentz was hired in December ’98. Kampman soon found himself with his hand on the ground for the first time in his career, playing defensive end. His junior year was a learning experience. You could see the wisdom in the move during Kampman’s senior season, when he earned first-team all-Big Ten, with nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss.
But even when the football wasn’t always what he might’ve thought it should be, Kampman was always the man he thought he should be. His belief in God was alway evident. He talked about it openly. He always showed up and gave an honest assessment, which wasn’t always easy in ’99 and ’00.
You could make the argument that Kampman was drafted more on character than talent. Of course, everyone knows where the talent part is today. The guy’s a Pro Bowler. You could argue that the talent is catching up to the character.
Godspeed to Kampman’s grandfather.
Here are some nuggets from Kampman’s Green Bay bio (some pretty great stuff here):
Is one of four current NFL players from Aplington-Parkersburg (Iowa) High School, joining Casey Wiegmann (Chiefs), Jared DeVries (Lions) and Brad Meester (Jaguars)
Comes from the small Iowa town of Kesley, population roughly 80, that has three streets running each direction and is without a stoplight
Along with his brother, Andy, operated a shingling business (Kampman Construction) during the summer months while in high school; the brothers’ company worked in conjunction with his father, Bob, who owns Kesley Lumber
Was the Packers’ finalist for the 2003 ‘Walter Payton Man of the Year’ award, given to the NFL player who has “demonstrated an outstanding balance (in his life) between civic and professional responsibilities”
Was named as one of the NFL’s “Good Guys” by The Sporting News in June 2006 for his work in the community
Received the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce’s community service award in 2003
His high school coach, Edward Thomas, was named as the 2005 ‘NFL High School Football Coach of the Year’ after he, Wiegmann, DeVries and Meester nominated their mentor
Has become one of the Packers’ most community-minded players, speaking to a variety of school and youth groups, as well as working at Paul’s Pantry, distributing food to needy families in Green Bay
This past January, he and Linde, also active in the community, did a two-week tour of India as guests of Gospel for Asia, a Christian ministry they support whose missionaries work in some of the hardest places to reach across southern Asia; got an opportunity to see the missionary work first-hand, touring several rural villages and meeting the ministry’s founder
Both also have worked extensively with a high school youth group associated with Green Bay Community Church
Previously went overseas in late February 2005 with Christian organization UPI (Unlimited Potential Incorporated), to share their faith with U.S. troops stationed in Mannheim, a military community in southwestern Germany; spent time at an Army hospital, a military prison and military schools
Received the ‘Nice Guy Award’ at the Doug Jirschele Sports Award Banquet in Clintonville, Wis., in 2004
Served as president of the local chapter of Athletes in Action while in college
Also worked as a church camp counselor in Parkersburg, Iowa
Was a regular visitor to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital as a collegian
Took seminary classes in Dallas in previous offseasons